Most of us will experience body-shaking, explosive anger and rage at some point in our lives. Anger is a secondary emotion, a defense mechanism protecting us against the vulnerabilities of fear and sadness. Anger is also a survival mechanism, ingrained in our evolutionary DNA to fight off predators and threats. Today, we aren’t running from big animals threatening to eat us. Instead, our survival instinct have become more emotionally based. We experience numerous emotional situations as threats to our survival. As a result, we respond, or react, with our fight-flight-or-freeze response. When we get deeply into fight mode, we can lose sight of our emotional regulation and fall into a cycle of anger or rage. Sometimes our anger and rage is justified through loss or injustice. Anger is one of the natural five stages of grief defined by Elisabeth Kubler Ross. Though anger can sometimes be justified, it is also a choice. We choose how we want to feel and what we want to do with our feelings. Anger can become unmanageable and out of control when we lose our ability to choose other feelings, behaviors, and responses.
Staying in a place of anger is harmful. Anger can be toxic energetically as well as emotionally. Getting in between authentic relationships and interpersonal connections, anger can interfere with the way we relate to friends, family members, coworkers, and even strangers we encounter every day.
It is often enlightening to discover we have a choice in anger. Anger management isn’t reserved for people who have committed unnecessary violent acts. The tools of anger management can be applied to those with aggressive, outward behavior, and those who turn their anger inward toward themselves.
Mindfulness and meditation are tools which help raise awareness to empower your ability to notice when your anger is flaring up. Before you explode and see red, you will develop the skill to take a pause and contemplate your anger. Do you want to react this way? What is it you feel angry about? Is it possible you are really scared, sad, insecure, or feel out of control? Could you choose another way to respond, while still acknowledging your anger? You don’t have to completely neglect your anger or judge your angry response as “bad”. Mindfulness, as well as other helpful techniques like cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy, emphasize nonjudgment. Take a few deep breaths and explain your anger, to yourself, or to someone else. You are experiencing anger, you are feeling anger, but you do not have to be angry.
Anger management can be an important tool for recovering from co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. Cottonwood Tucson offers an integrative approach to treating co-occurring disorders, focusing on holistic health. Our programs are trusted internationally for providing safety and understanding to clients bringing them hope and healing. For information, call us today by dialing (800) 877-4520.